Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Himalaya Fall 2011: Snow Stopped, Teams Plan For Next Summit Bid

Yesterday I posted a rather dire update from the Himalaya, in which nearly every team had retreated to their respective Base Camps after a massive storm dumped snow across the entire region. Today we get news that the weather has shifted once again – this time for the better – and plans are in motion for the next attempt on the summit. At least on Manaslu.

Earlier today, the Altitude Junkies posted a dispatch in which they reported that the snow had finally stopped flying and that conditions were "glorious" in BC. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that they are particularly good higher on the mountain, where heavy accumulations have buried the fixed lines and will make breaking trail an arduous task. On top of that, until the snow settles, conditions will be unstable, which could make avalanches a real possibility.

Because of those unsafe conditions, the AJ team isn't in a real hurry to head back up the mountain, although the current weather reports say that conditions should be good heading into the weekend. The team leaders aren't quite ready to announce their new schedule, but they have indicated that they'll be working with the Himex team to dig out the ropes and re-establish the high camps so they'll be ready to go as soon as possible.

There were some forecasts that indicated that the jet stream would move over the Himalaya around the first of October, so obviously there are some concerns that if that happens, the season will come to a quick end. But for now, it seems that the teams on Manaslu are feeling optimistic about their chances of another summit bid. We'll likely know more about their plans in the next few days.

No word from the teams on Shisha Pangma or Cho Oyu yet, but they were also hit hard by the storm. They're probably evaluating the situation too and hoping that they'll have the opportunity to climb soon as well. Once the jet stream settles in, cold weather and high winds come along with it, which means the end of the fall climbing season. Only a few brave and rugged climbers venture to the region in the winter.

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